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The University Role: Research or Education? Universities in both nations have dual roles research and education. Despite Monbusho's focus on the educational role of the Japanese univer- sity, industry in Japan has taken over the training role to a much greater extent than is the case in the United States. It is debatable whether indus- try trains its new employees to the extent that it does because universities fail to do so, or whether universities do not conduct such training because industry prefers to train its own employees. It is, nevertheless, true that considerable training and education in Japan occurs in the corporate rather than university environment. The Japanese student's "university experience" is very different from that of his counterpart in the United States. The so-called "examination hell" created by the Japanese educational system for its university-bound high school students has, perhaps, been overplayed by the media. It is nonetheless true that Japanese high school students spend many more hours studying than do their American counterparts, motivated in part by difficult university entrance examinations. By contrast, therefore, their university years are often viewed as a respite. In many ways, higher education is considered the weakest link in Japan's education system.) At best, the university experience is a time for individualized learning. At least, it offers l Sogo ni Mita Nichi-Bei Kyoih1 no Kadai: Nichi-Bei Kyoi~u Kyoryoku Kenlyu Hokokusho [Tasks for Education in Japan and the United States: A Binational Perspective, Report of the Cooper- ative Research Project on Education in Japan and the United States], Amagi Isao, ed. (Tokyo: Daiichi Kokushuppan, 1987~. 9
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10 the student a chance to develop social skills that were ignored during the strenuous high school years. Few students who manage to enter a Japanese university fail to graduate. The contrast between the weary Japanese high school student and the carefree university student is almost reversed in the United States, where many college freshmen discover that high school has not prepared them for the serious study and heavy workload expected by the university. American industry relies heavily on universities to train students, to provide them with the information, habits, and discipline required in their chosen careers. There is considerably less pressure and competition to enter universities in the United States than in Japan; in the United States, the competition and pressure are encountered between entrance and graduation. Attrition rates are correspondingly higher in the United States than in Japan. Research and educational functions are not usually as well integrated in Japanese universities as they are in their American counterparts. In Japan, university-affiliated research institutes often have separate faculties appointed exclusively for research functions. Although Monbusho states publicly that the primary function of Japanese universities is to educate, there have been calls for closer integration between the two functions in order to improve both. Tokyo Institute of Technology Professor Eiji Oshima, for example, recently told a U.S.-Japan forum that the most important function of the Japanese university is research, because educa- tion requires hands-on research.2 Lawrence Grayson has also argued that because research is an important element of graduate education, it may be necessary to integrate research and education to improve and expand graduate education in Japan.3 In 1984 there were 7,477 doctoral degrees conferred in Japan; the United States granted 32,971 In 1985.4 Although the percentage of those degrees offered in the combined fields of natural science and engineering is about the same in both countries, the split between natural sciences and engineering is illuminating (see liable 3-1~. The share of total Ph.D.s granted in the natural sciences in the United States is more than twice the corresponding share in Japan, whereas the share granted In engineering Is significantly less than that in Japan. 2 Eiji Oshima, "The Role of Engineering Education in the Japanese Society," Proceedings of the Fourth United States-Japan Science Policy Seminar, Edward E. David and Takashi Mukaibo, eds. (Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation, 1988), 40. 3Lawrence Grayson, "Japan's Intellectual Challenge: The Future,"Engineenng Education (Feb- ruary 1984), 28. 4National Science Foundation, The Science and Technology Resources of Japan: A Comparison with the United States, 1988, 61.
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11 TABLE 3-1 Doctoral Degrees by Field and as a Percentage of Total Japan (1984) United States (1985) Field Percentage Percentage Number of Total Number of Total Natural sciences 807 10.8 7,793 23.6 Engineering 1,291 17.3 3,251 9.9 Agriculture 614 8.2 1,057 3.2 Other 4,765 63.7 20,871 63.3 Total 7,477 100.0 32,971 100.0 Total, science and 2,712 36.3 12,101 36.7 . . engineering SOURCE: Percentages calculated from numbers in: National Science Foundation, The Science and Technology Resources of Japan: A Comparison with the United States, 1988, 61. Also important to Japan's success in "catching up with the West" has been the even greater share of Japanese undergraduate degrees in engineering. Japan, with just over half the U.S. population, graduates close to the same number of first-degree engineering students as does the United States. These students also account for a significantly larger share of total undergraduate degrees in Japan (see Able 3-2~. Relatively few of Japan's undergraduate engineers continue their formal education. Most join corporations soon after completing their first degrees. These students have been able to move directly into industry to apply their engineering skills to manufacturing. As the Japanese move into new and rapidly changing fields, however, they are beginning to perceive a need to generate knowledge of their own, and, as a result, they are becoming increasingly concerned that only a small share of engineering undergraduates go on to pursue graduate engineering education. A recent report to Monbusho called for "efforts [to be] made to gradually increase the number of people completing the courses of masters or doctors."5 At the same time, because of the way some Ph.D.s are granted in Japan, not all of them contribute to the country's basic research base or pool of potential educators. Although some Japanese Ph.D.s are granted via the same approach used in the United States (i.e., university coursework, followed by examinations and a dissertation), many are granted via another 5Minist~y of Education, Science and Culture University Chartering Council, "The Systematic Planning and Administration of Higher Education in Japan after 1986," 1984, 27.
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12 TABLE 3-2 First University Degrees by Field and as a Percentage of Total, 1985 Japan Field United States Percentage Percentage Number of Total Number of Total Natural sciences 12,698 3.4120,16811.3 Engineering 71,396 19.177,8717.3 Total 373,302 100.01,066,439100.0 SOURCE: Percentages calculated from figures in: National Science Foundation. The Science and Technology Resources of Japan: A Comparison with the United States, 1988, 60. channel, known as ronbun hakushi or "dissertation only" degrees. Without ever attending a doctoral level course or passing an examination, many Japanese not even enrolled in a university receive their doctorates by having their written research work accepted by a university faculty. In this way, Japanese industry researchers working on applied research for their employers receive Ph.D.s. These Ph.D. earners are probably better suited to doing excellent and efficient applied work. A striking difference between the two countries is the large number of foreign-born students in the United States. The proportion of foreign students is greatest in U.S. graduate schools. Over half of the engineering students in U.S. graduate programs are foreign citizens.6 Although most of them are here on temporary visas, many choose to stay after graduation and become U.S. citizens; most of those who stay remain in academe. Japanese students, on the other hand, usually return to Japan on completion of their studies here. Although there are a significant number of foreign students in Japan, most graduate engineering degrees are granted to Japanese citizens.7 Those foreign students who earn degrees in Japan also tend to return to their native countries upon graduation. The inclusion of foreign engineers in American university research has many positive aspects, including the infusion of new talent, diversity, and much-needed supplemental technical manpower. The high proportion of foreigners in graduate engineering programs, however, also generates some concern. Most important, the proportions reflect a correspondingly 6 National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering indicators 1987, 196. ~ Lawrence P. Grayson, ``Technology in Japan: Advancing the Frontiers, Part 1: Graduate Edu- cation,99 EngineenngEdllcation (April/May 1987), 691.
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13 low interest among U.S.-born students in graduate engineering education, some of the reasons for which are discussed below. In addition, concerns have been raised about the possibility that U.S. educational standards are being lowered by the increasing number of foreign teaching assistants who lack a proper mastery of English, the possibility that foreign teaching assistants of different cultural backgrounds may be discouraging women and minorities, and the possibility of future inadequacy in the supply of native engineers for national security worlds Despite the large number of Japanese researchers coming to the United States (more than 23,000 in 1986), Japan does not account for a large share of foreign engineering students. Although Asia accounts for 42 percent of the foreign engineering students in the United States, Japanese engineering students make up less than 2.5 percent. Of the foreign recipients of U.S. engineering Ph.D.s, Japanese students receive only 1.39 percent.9 There are, however, a number of large Japanese corporations with formal research training programs that include support for research abroad, at times in American universities. Japanese researchers and engineers may be working in or visiting U.S. universities, national laboratories, or industry, but they do not represent a significant share of foreigners earning degrees here. Both the United States and Japan seem to be suffering from a lack of student interest in graduate engineering education and experts in both countries are concerned about salary gaps that encourage new engineers to move to industry, perhaps to the detriment of university research and education. During an investigation of the shortage of engineering faculty in U.S. universities, the American Electronics Association discovered that U.S. students with a bachelor's degree in engineering preferred to move into industrial employment rather than spend more money to pursue their education and then take a lower-pay~ng job in a university. Engineering Ph.D.s In academe were reportedly malting 30 to 50 percent less than bachelor degrees in industry.~° In Japan, Kobe University professor Kazukai Iwata recently warned that, despite the shortage of graduate engineers, an increasing number of Japanese undergraduates were also opting to proceed directly to work. According to Iwata, this trend is reinforced by the fact that, in general, National Academy of Engineering, Foreigr' and Foreig~-Bom Engineers in the United States (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988~. 9National Academy of Engineering, Foreign and Foreign-Born Engineers in the United States (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988), 55-56. 10Pat Hill Hubbard, "Internationalization of Engineering," Proceedings of the Fourth United States-Japan Science Policy Seminar, Edward E. David and Takahashi Mukaibo, eds. (Washing- ton, D.C.: National Science Foundation, 1988), 162.
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14 only large corporations employ Ph.D.s.l1 In 1982, Monbusho reported that one in seven engineering Ph.D. graduates were unemployed; by 1984, the number had reached one in four.~3 It is generally believed that Japanese companies prefer to hire young workers and train and educate them themselves, rather than hire older, more educated but sometimes less adaptable workers. While it is true that some of the unemployed Ph.D. graduates in Japan are on postdoctoral fellowships waiting for a suitable university facula position to become available, it is unclear how many of these fellowships have been created purely for the purpose of utilizing unemployed Ph.D. graduates. i~Kazuaki Iwata,ManufacturingEngineenng: Universi~-Ind~soy Coordination, presented at the second Japan-U.S. conference on manufacturing research, July 11-14, 1988. i2Lawrence P. Grayson, "Japan's Intellectual Challenge: The System," Engineering Education (January 1984), 18. i3Lawrence P. Grayson, "Technology in Japan: Advancing the Frontiers, Part 1: Graduate Ed- ucation,"EngineeringEducation (ApriliMay 1987), 692.
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